Buying the best office chair you can afford, whether you work at home or in an office, is one of the most important investments you (or your company) will make. If you sit in your office chair for between 6-8 hours per day your posture and comfort are vital to your long term health. I know from personal experience, back and shoulder pain can be excruciating and debilitating. Plus, back pain costs companies money in terms of employee absence. A good office chair, with lumbar supports, head & arm rests and adjustable height will help prevent injury and enable you to stay focused.
Office Chair Equipment Testing
My disadvantage reviewing equipment is that I don’t get free samples. Maybe as this blog grows in popularity I will ask for free ones to test! Or, perhaps I go to office exhibitions and sit on all the chairs I can find. I’ll video it if I do! 🙂
Therefore, my methodology is the same as if I was looking for a chair for myself:
- Check different review websites.
- Research the different features.
- Combine all the different reviews
- Look at the reviews on retail websites such as Amazon and Wayfair.
- Check the prices.
When I’ve done my research I make a recommendation
I aim to save you time by showing you the research and giving you the best office chairs taking into account design, price and posture. These are the office chairs I’d personally buy if I made a choice today.
I also believe in ‘the wisdom of crowds’. Rather than trusting just one review I feel the majority of people, like me, prefer to be guided by numerous reviews. I aggregate several expert reviews to provide recommendations based on many different factors
Best Office Chairs
When considering an office chair there are several factors to consider:
- Comfort including adjustability, materials & ergonomics
- Credit Plans
Office Chair Prices
Your budget obviously depends on your own circumstances. However, I want to share these thoughts.
If you work at home then you likely sit in your chair for 6-8 hours per day. That’s as long as you spend in bed! You can expect a good chair to last 10 years. So £1,000 for a chair spread across 10 years and 8 hours a day, actually doesn’t work out too expensive. That said, I personally don’t have £1k to spend on a chair! My budget is £200.
If you manage an office then £1k per chair will cost a lot of money. However, I think there are other important considerations. Firstly, back pain is one of the most common injuries suffered by office workers. Absenteeism caused by back pain can cost you far more than the cost of the chair spread across, say, 5 years. Secondly, a company can usually arrange a payment plan, particularly with the premium suppliers, to spread the cost. This will help cash flow. Thirdly, there is residual second hand value in the chair. Many premium office chairs can be sold for nearly half their original purchase price if they’re in good condition.
Comfort / Adjustability / Materials
There is a lot of subjectivity involved in choosing the right office chair for yourself. Whether you prefer mid or high back? Arm rest or none? On wheels or static legs? Mesh or leather? Executive or drafting chair? These choices are subjective and it will come down to personal preference.
When considering adjustability, my own experience is that after I set the chair to the height I like, then I never touch it again. However, if you live in a shared house then adjustability is an important factor, especially if different people in the house vary in heights or weight.
Another experience I’ve learnt is that wheels/castors on a chair work well on a carpet. However, on a smooth floor such as wood or lino, a chair on wheels can cause strain if it rolls uncontrollably. In this case static legs may be a better option.
Finally, as a gamer myself, I’m aware ‘Gamer’ chairs are rising in popularity. Similar to office chairs, these are designed and marketed as being suitable for long periods of sitting. The design of these chairs might not be to everyone’s tastes but personally, I like the designs and the fact the chair is a hybrid for office work and gaming.
Here is my research, showing the suggestions made by ten different review sites. Based on this I make my suggestions.
Most Recommended Office Chairs
These are the chairs that repeatedly get recommended.
- Amazon Basics
- HAG Capisco Puls
- Hbada Office Task Desk Chair
- Herman Miller Aeron, Embody & Sayl
- Humanscale Diffrient World, Freedom & Liberty
- IKEA Markus
- SIHOO Ergonomic Office Chair
- Steelcase Gesture
- Symple Stuff Ergonomic Mesh
Premium Office Chairs
There is no doubt US-based Herman Miller is the Ferrari of chair design. The Aeron is recommended by virtually every reviewer. The kicker? Just like a Ferrari, it’s expensive. If you buy direct from their website the RRP is £1,030. Now, I think there is a good argument that a £1,000 purchase, spread over 10 years and 5 days a week, is a bad investment. However, I simply don’t have £1,000 to spend.
What makes Herman Miller the best office chair for home?
The Aeron was designed and released in 1994. It innovated in three key areas:
- Using a mesh for the back support. This does two things: Firstly, it molds to the contours of the body better, providing improved support. Secondly, it allows air to circulate and moisture to be released, meaning you don’t get a sweaty back!
- Lumbar Support. The ‘lumbar’ is 5 vertebrae in the lower back. Anyone who has suffered back pain, like me, knows how excruciating it can be. The support pushes the bottom of the back so it’s in a more upright “S” position and prevents slouching, promoting better posture.
- Adjustability – You’ll notice the Aeron doesn’t look like a normal chair. This is because pretty much everything can be adjusted. Height, recline, pitch and swivel can all be changed to suit your personal comfort.
Herman Miller is renowned for making some of the world’s best office chairs. In addition to the flagship Aeron, they make a range of chairs for lower budgets. The ‘Embody’ and ‘Sayl’ models are both given several mentions by reviewers.
Humanscale, based in New York, is a big company in office supply. They not only provide the equipment but also consult in ergonomics for companies. It’s no surprise their chairs regularly get voted as a Best Office Chair.
The “Diffrient Chair” (named after the designer Niels Diffrient and not, as I initially thought, a smart attempt at wordplay on the word ‘Different’) is voted for 3 times. The RRP of £660 is not as costly as the Aeron but has a similar mesh back and fully adjustable.
One thing that put me off was reading an Amazon review, which wasn’t complimentary about Humanscale. OK, maybe a competitor posted the review (!) but it’s worth reading how this reviewer thinks Humanscale is cutting quality but not price.
Another US company who specialise in furniture, architecture and ergonomics. Their ‘Gesture’ chair gets multiple votes. It claims that it’s designed to support the different movements people make when they interact with technology. So, for instance, we may lean forward when writing and sending texts. They claim to have analysed over 2,000 people sitting in chairs and the Gesture is designed to move to support them. It’s a nice looking chair but is premium price, ranking alongside the Aeron and Humanscale.
Quick notes about the premium products:
- These products tend not to be on Amazon. You have to buy them either direct or through one of the approved resellers (usually John Lewis).
- They all offer corporate deals, including vouchers for home workers to order products online.
- The prices on their websites don’t include VAT so be aware.
- Since the products can be customised the delivery may take longer
Office Chairs below £200
Like most products you can place office chairs in three categories: Premium, Mid-range and Budget. Since my budget won’t stretch to a premium office chair then what is the best in the mid-range? These manufacturers emulate the design of the premium chairs but at a mid price range. They’re both available on Amazon, meaning free delivery for Prime users. Hbada and SIHOO are Chinese manufacturers who deliver some of their products directly from China.
- Hbada Office Task Desk Chair
- SIHOO Ergonomic Office Chair
- IKEA Markus
Budget Office Chairs
I suspect this category will appeal to many home office workers. Two of them are supplied by well known brands, Argos and Amazon. Symple Stuff is a trademark of Wayfair, a large US-based furniture supplier. As such, you can be fairly sure the quality is good, customer service is reliable and you will be able to return the product if you find it’s not quite right for you.
- Symple Stuff
- AmazonBasics Classic office chair
Refurbished Office Chairs
An option to consider is buying a refurbished or second hand chair. This makes more sense for the premium suppliers. These chairs are extremely well made and durable. Therefore you can find good condition chairs on eBay. A second hand Aeron from a professional refurb company costs on average £450. In other words, less than half price for a gold standard chair. However, as you know, you could always get lucky and pick up a bargain from someone selling privately.
An important consideration is the environmental impact of the chair. Unfortunately, the lower price/budget chairs use a lot of plastic. The premium chairs tend to use metal and nylon that can be recycled easier. They’re also more durable. Budget is likely the deciding factor, but higher priced items will inevitably be better for the environment.
What is the best office chair for back pain?
In my research for the best office chair for lower back pain I learnt three important points:
- Lumbar Support – most modern office chairs now have support for the lower back. This support pushes the lower back slightly. The chair’s back is in a gentle S curve to push out the chest and encourage a more upright position.
- Height of chair and footrests – Having the feet higher pushes up the legs which like the lumbar support, promotes a more upright position.
- Headrests and armrests. When working at a keyboard the body tends to lean forward with arms resting on the table. However, when we’re on the phone or taking part in a conference call we lean back, placing our arms on the rests. It’s at these points our bodies require more support.
What is the best office chair : Conclusion
When selecting the best office chair I’ve come to the following conclusions:
A handful of manufacturers repeatedly get recommended in reviews. These are:
Premium Office Chairs:
- Herman Millar
Office Chairs Less Than £200
Budget Office Chairs
- Symple Stuff
I narrowed my selection down to these.
I decided my budget is £200 max. Bearing in mind an office chair can be claimed as a tax expense and there are credit deals available, it should be considered as a long term purchase.
Leather, faux-leather or mesh is a personal choice. My own preference is for mesh plus lumbar support, armrest and headrest.
Therefore, my choice is…..
SIHOO Ergonomic Office Chair, Adjustable Headrest And Lumbar Support
Priced within my budget at £189, it has all the features I’m looking for and has a large number of positive buyer reviews on Amazon.
That said, if I could afford it then I wouldn’t hesitate buying a Herman Millar Aeron.